Editor Juan Hern‡ndez, Ph.D.
who gave so much to young
US and Mexican leaders
Vicente Fox Quesada has donated the royalties of this publication to scholarships for Guanajuatenses.
The Center for US-Mexico Studies
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS
Series: Mexican Leaders of the 21st Century
No part of this publication, including the cover design, may be reproduced, stored or transmitted by any means, without previous permission from the editor.
Translated by Irene del Corral
When my friend Juan Hern‡ndez, the editor of this volume and series, asked me to introduce Vicente Fox to an American audience, I was somewhat surprised by the request. On the one hand, the former Coca Cola executive, and current governor of the Mexican State of Guanajuato, with many friends and backers north of the Rio Grande, hardly needs an additional presentation. On the other, my own credentials as a more or less typical "leftist intellectual" from Latin America were perhaps not ideal for the job: although I consider Fox a friend and colleague in the struggle for the democratization of Mexico, appearances in any case would seem to indicate that we are not necessarily on the same political wave-length. I was thus slightly hesitant to accept the invitation.
On reflection and after perusing this collection of Fox's speeches and statements, however, I changed my mind on both counts. The governor of Guanajuato may be well known in the US business community and in Washington policy-making circles, but his name recognition in American academia, among activists and citizens at large is very low -- a problem his incipient campaign in Mexico for the presidency still faces, by the way. Secondly, as several of his speeches show, his political stances on various issues are far less removed than many believe from the type of new positions on myriad matters that the Latin American center-left has been articulating over the past couple of years. While Vicente Fox's ideological discourse and social inclinations continue to part ways with much of the Mexican intellectual left and center -- particularly on social and cultural issues -- his three years in government in Guanajuato have brought him much closer than his colleagues in the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN) to this broad stream of Latin American thought and action. They have also begun to open a tiny but growing window of opportunity for a convergence of forces and personalities in which Fox would play a significant role.
Fox's views on several key questions illustrate this rapprochement, which is the product of his own experience in government, of his participation in a series of international seminars and discussions, and his budding friendship with exceptional Latin American thinkers, such as Brazilian Harvard Law Professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger. Take the central issue of taxation in Mexico and, more broadly, in Latin America. Fox's PAN associates are traditional anti-tax, anti-spend conservatives; they subscribe in many cases to a traditional, supply-side vision of macro-economic theory whereby lowering taxes is the beginning and end of economic policy. Logically enough, when, together with the PRD, the PAN achieved a numerical majority in Mexico's House of Representatives in 1997, it promptly proposed to lower Mexico's Value-Added Tax or VAT from 15% to 10 or 12%, hoping this way both to endear itself to the middle classes and be coherent with its campaign promises and doctrinal thinking.
The only PAN governor and leader to come out forthrightly against this stance was Fox, who clearly proclaimed that government in Mexico needed more money, not less, in order to comply with its enormous responsibilities in the field of education, health and infrastructure, to mention only the most important. Moreover, in Guanajuato, Fox seeks to establish a 2% special tax for educational purposes. One of the reasons for the former businessman's change of heart on these matters is, of course, his acknowledgment of the realities of government: during his time at the State house in Guanajuato, he has realized that the key problem of governance in Mexico is financial.
But his long conversations with Mangabeira Unger --a well-known advocate of rasing VAT taxes throughout Latin America to much higher levels, despite the apparently regressive nature of the tax-- as well as his participation in many meetings of a Latin American group of center-left politicians I have convened together with others, also contributed to his conversion. Today, in Mexico, perhaps the only politician with national stature --on the left or on the right-- to openly declare that the country requires a major fiscal overhaul in order to increase, and not decrease, the over-all tax take, is Vicente Fox.
On a second matter where the governor of Guanajuato has also staked out a position that is far closer to the "new" Latin American left than to the "old" Mexican right, is on industrial policy, employment and the construction of backward linkages in the export sector. As is well-known, the boom in Mexico's export sector over the past few years has included several major weaknesses, not least of which is the fact that an enormous proportion of the inputs consumed by the export sector are imported. This means that many of the jobs that the export sector should generate in fact remain abroad, where components and intermediate products are manufactured. This has contributed to a widening of the split between the economic vanguard and rearguard in Mexico, where dynamic, competitive, capital-intensive, modern industries in the export sector coexist with traditional, inefficient, labor-intensive factories producing for the domestic market. One of the best examples of this paradox lies in the automobile industry, where finished exports --cars-- are booming, but inputs are largely imported from the United States and Canada.
Fox faced this problem with the inauguration, a few years back, of the ultra-modern, huge General Motors assembly plant in Silao, Guanajuato. Although it created a significant number of jobs in the state, its impact was less than expected since local suppliers were virtually non-existent. But through an industrial policy of consultation with GM and the local business community, as well as with regional universities, the government of Guanajuato was able to encourage the emergence of dozens of sub-contractors or suppliers, who are now all manufacturing for General Motors, bringing jobs, technology and know-how to the state at a small- and medium-size firm level, a much more important contribution than at the concentrated, mammoth level of the GM plant itself. Again, this type of approach, limited as it is, appears much closer to the views and hopes of post "neo-liberal" thinking than to the PAN itself. Indeed, it resembles the type of decentralized, democratic and flexible alliances between government, business, the academic community and labor advocated by Mangabeira and Ciro Gomes, his Brazilian colleague and former governor of the state of Cear‡. The labor component is largely missing in Guanajuato, and this is not a minor weakness in the program. Still, the memorable phrase uttered by former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari's Industry and Trade Minister is worth recalling: "The best industrial policy is no industrial policy."
Left and right in Latin America are shifting around, for reasons of substance, of historical transitions, and of political expediency. Politicians of the left have moved right; leaders of the right have drifted leftward. As the region inches toward putting its brand-new representative democracies to the final test --seeing how Latin elites react to democratic, redistributive pressures from below-- these transfers and movements will become more common, and perhaps also, for a while, more confusing. In this regard Fox is part of a hemispheric process, not an individual, isolated case.
Finally, as Vicente himself points out in this volume in the comments he made upon his return from Chile in 1997, Mexico requires a vast alliance to defeat the PRI in the upcoming presidential elections of the year 2000 and to lead Mexico into the twenty first century with a broad and powerful mandate. In order to build that alliance its partners have to set aside secondary, ideological differences in order to concentrate on the essential points that can bring them together. As in Chile, where Socialists and Christian Democrats first agreed on joining to defeat Pinochet in the 1988 plebiscite, then in presenting a common candidate in the 1989 presidential elections, then to govern together for President Patricio Alwyn's term, then to maintain their unity in the 1994 elections and govern together under President Eduardo Frei, the different opposition forces in Mexico will have to find a way either to unite before the next elections, or at least after the vote if they win separately.
As Fox makes clear in this collection, he admires the Chilean post-Pinochet experience, and partly considers it a model for Mexico. On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether Fox himself, and, more importantly, his party, are able and willing to renounce a certain tendency to simplify complex international and economic problems and to make the necessary concessions on issues such as the role of the Church, women's rights, education, family planning, cultural and social tolerance that will undoubtedly be necessary to repeat that experience in Mexico. Fox, as this book shows, is increasingly conscious of these dilemmas, and ever more ready to move in the Chilean direction. Whether he can actually bring this endeavor to fruition remains to be seen.
A Conversation with Vicente Fox
Juan Hern‡ndez: Good morning, Governor, and Happy Birthday!
Vicente Fox: Thanks, Juan. I«m so glad to be here with you!
JH: Thanks. Before discussing "dreams, challenges and threats," (our main topics for this interview), I«d like for us to speak a little about your life in general, your biography. Tell us about your family, your childhood, your first desire to enter public life ....
VF: Well, you shouldn«t have started by addressing me as Governor because I still think of myself as a common citizen, a farmer, a father.
JH: OK. Vicente ... Tell us about your childhood.
VF: I was born on a ranch, in an ejido over in San Crist—bal, in the municipality of San Francisco del Rinc—n, Guanajuato. I shared my toys, shared my childhood, with the children on the farms, with the children of the ejido farm workers, the children of ranchers. And there I found something special for myself, something that has been very important in all of my life, something that stayed imprinted in my heart -- the poverty and margination that exists in the Mexican farmland.
JH: And do you still frequent those childhood friends?
VF: Some of those kids continue being my friends. Some are in the United States; they had to go, seeking opportunities which they never had over here. Others, also my friends, are still there, in the San Cristobal Ranch. They are just like me but with one great difference ... they still live on minimum salary, with few opportunities for progress. This has moved me to politics, to seek a way so that every citizen, every child, every youngster has opportunities.
JH: Please, continue.
VF: Well, I grew up there and went to school. The road to the city was not paved so we went in a jeep or by horse. It was a truly a happy childhood. Later on, I left for the big city; I went to study Business Administration in Mexico City. I studied at the Iberoamericana University and then joined the Coca Cola Company, that great international corporation. I have great respect for that company because of its commitment to the community, its commitment to development.
JH: How long were you with Coca Cola? I understand you started off working on a truck ....
VF: I spent 15 years there. The first three I worked on a delivery truck selling Coca Colas ... until I climbed up to the presidency of the company ... after 10 years. I stayed another five years, returning then to the farm, where I really loved ... farming, ranching. We grew potatoes, vegetables, corn, sorghum. We export a lot to the US, and like a good "LeonŽs," we make shoes, cowboy boots ... like these ... I«ve worn cowboy boots all my life.
JH: So why did you leave the farm? ÀWhy did you go into politics?
VF: What I«m trying to explain with all this is that I«ve been living the normal life of a citizen; my life has not been one of a politician but of a businessman and a farmer. I have four wonderful children ... Ana Cristina, Paulina, Vicente and Rodrigo. I love them deeply; they are my joy and they are, in great measure, the reason for my political struggle ... this very difficult struggle ...
JH: Please explain the struggle.
VF: Political struggle in Mexico is very difficult. In Mexico ... struggling from the opposition, facing a deeply rooted system, an official party that has been in power for 70 years ... it«s difficult. That party has totally lost its direction in the last 25 years. Its errors, corruption and dishonesty has placed the country in grave problems. Today our nation is very saddened, in great pain.
JH: Tell me which are the greatest dreams of Vicente Fox?
VF: Well, like every human being, I have many dreams. Nevertheless, trying to be concrete, I could tell you that my dream at this moment is to finish my job as governor having won the trust of all the Guanajuatenses. I«d like, when I«ve finished my term, to be able to walk down the street like any normal citizen, without having to escape to Ireland, like our former president Salinas. I don«t want to have to hide my face like every former president of Mexico does.
JH: You say that Mexico is currently a sad country. Is it difficult to dream at this time in Mexico?
VF: I believe that recuperating our trust in Mexico is fundamental, the credibility of our public officials, our public servants. Society must believe once again in us. If I am able to provide this in Guanajuato, it would be the fulfillment of a great dream. I«m trying to realize this for Mexico, for my children, because this is the dream of many ...
JH: What dream do you have for Mexico?
VF: A successful Mexico, a triumphant Mexico, a Mexico with an economy that has a sustainable growth. But, most of all, I want a Mexico with human development. A country where young people, men and women, can, if they are responsible and put some effort, aspire to a life of quality and dignity. I believe that this would be my dream for Mexico. But it is more than a dream; it is something we are going to build, something we are already building ... many Mexicans ...
JH: You are great optimist, aren«t you?
VF: We are all very optimistic keeping our eyes on July 2 of the year 2000 ... the next presidential election. This date, from my perspective, is when Mexico will enter the third millennium, and when Mexico will go through the great transformations needed to achieve great dreams.
JH: Continuing on the topic of the year 2000, what are the challenges your Party, the PAN, faces?
VF: Trying to reach the presidency of the Mexican Republic, from the opposition, no es enchilame otra [humorous saying literally meaning "its not like putting hot sauce"]. In our country, a candidate of an opposition party trying to reach the presidential chair, confronts great challenges. I compare it to that challenge taken on many years ago by president Kennedy. Many young people probably don«t even remember it. He challenged the American people to have an American on the moon in less than 10 years. Few believed him, nevertheless, he had the confidence, he used the resources, he attempted the goal and reached it. Before 10 years had gone by, an American was on the moon. This is the magnitude of the challenge to reach the presidential chair in Mexico.
JH: And who do you think can make it?
VF: A woman or a man with a great vision, with great leadership, who comes from outside the system. The problems is we have had 70 years ... "of the same soup" ... 70 years with presidents, governors, representatives, senators, all from one same party. This is the paradigm we must break, and this is the struggle we have already initiated. The challenge, then, is to overcome many obstacles. Some are related to my own party. In my own case, for example, I must win in a democratic convention ... win in that convention with 75% of the votes of the members of my party -- 12,000 votes.
JH: And then?
VF: From there ... the candidacy to the presidency of the republic ... and then to win it in spite of all the disadvantages possible. Because the party in power normally has control of the electoral process ... it has all the advantages. In addition, it normally uses the force of its power to support its candidate. Nevertheless, we now have a little experience ... we«ve gotten a little wiser. And I believe ... we will beat the official party July 2, 2000!
JH: Nevertheless, you recognize the difficulty ....
VF: Sure. In this country, the road to the presidency of the republic, from the opposition, is full of rocks, predators, leeches, scorpions and snakes that will try to stop us from reaching that seat.
JH: If these are your personal challenges and the challenges of your party, please name three challenges that Mexico, as a country, faces at the end of this millennium?
VF: Well, there are many challenges. You ask me to mention three. Well, poverty ... what I always call the lack of opportunities ... then there is the lack of infrastructure and ... our low educational level.
JH: Please develop these a little more.
VF: Well, we must overcome our painful situation .... We have more than 40 million poor in this country; they have hardly enough to survive and some live in infra human conditions. Imagine, 40 million people getting up every day looking for a way to put food on the table for that afternoon. This is terrible. ÀWho is capable of reaching his or her potential and productivity if the only way of survival is found working in the streets as a little clown, begging, unloading trucks, fighting over garbage from the farmer«s market, or finding some odd job for a few hours ... and then the next day ... the same uncertainty.
JH: Yes, what a great burden ...
VF: We have a very severe burden ... and we all carry it .... In addition, we have fallen behind in many areas -- roads, hospitals, schools, everything that has to do with infrastructure and public works. We have fallen behind, very far behind. And finally, the most important, is the great lack of education in our country. Today we have a level of education of six and a half years. This places us among some of the most uneducated countries around the world and makes it very difficult for us to compete with countries that have advanced in their educational programs. For example, every country in Europe has more than 12 years of average education and some have reached an average of 14. The US has also reached 14 years, and so has Canada and many countries in Asia.
JH: Why have some called you "a threat"?
VF: I am a threat against the system! I am not willing to close my eyes to lack of justice in our country .... I am not willing to deny the corruption that exists .... I have said I want to throw the PRI party out of Los Pinos ....
JH: How will you do it ... if the PRI is so powerful ....
VF: I won«t do it alone. There are many Mexicans like myself who are not going to let the country continue like this. We are going to work to build a marvelous Mexico, a successful Mexico, a Mexico with opportunities for all. That is a great threat to some!
JH: Give me a specific example of one of your "threats."
VF: Well, let«s return to one of the challenges that I already mentioned. In Mexico, for example, we must induce ... provoke a great educational revolution. We must go to the depths and shake and change radically our system.
JH: What have you done in your own state, in this respect?
VF: A lot. Guanajuato today is the only state in Mexico, and probably the only one in the world, that guarantees publicly to all the children education all the way through the university, if they are willing to put their part of the effort. The finances will not be a problem for those children .... There are scholarships, financing .... They need only the will, the sense of responsibility and effort to become a doctor, an attorney an architect or a teacher.
JH: So, we continue returning to the need for opportunities ....
VF: Yes. I repeat this constantly. We must provide opportunities to the Mexican people. And as you know, this is the motto of our state: Guanajuato, land of opportunities.
JH: OK. Let«s talk again about Fox. Imagine that you make it to Los Pinos ... you are now president of Mexico ... ÀWhat will you do on your first day of work?
VF: My first day at work ... well ... I«ll get up a 5:30 a.m., like I do everyday ... but that day I will start the Great Battle against corruption, dishonesty, narcotraffic and political crime. It seems to me that we cannot begin a process of economic development, we cannot promote the development of human capital, education, if we do not have a scenario of peace and justice. In Mexico we need for laws to be respected, and today they are not. The first one to violate the constitution is the President of the republic. So, we must have a true reign of law on one side, and on the other, security and justice.
JH: ÀHave you been able to achieve this in Guanajuato?
VF: This, again, is something that is taking place in Guanajuato. We have been able to greatly advance. In Guanajuato there is peace and tranquility. In Guanajuato there is a respect for the laws. In Guanajuato there is respect among the politicians of the three parties. The Executive power, the Legislative power and the Judicial power are autonomous and act independently. This gives us a political structure of great value. When you have a place like this with peace, with tranquility, with harmony, you can give, as a human being, your maximum capacity, develop your great potential. Then you will see how the economy grows, how education advances and how culture and sports flourish. So, thats how Id start that first day of December of the year 2000.
JH: Is there a message you would like to send the Mexicans living abroad? ... so many who live in the US ....
VF: Sure, of course. As a matter of fact, as I stated before, there are many brothers in the US from the Ejido San Crist—bal. And, of course, they come from many parts of Mexico .... I«d like to tell them: We love you very much, we respect you, we are very very proud of each one of you. We know that you have taken a great chance and have gone through great difficulties. We know that with tenacity and a spirit for progress many of you have obtained very sound positions. Many others, perform jobs of great value, jobs that I believe have supported the development and growth of the US.
JH: I understand there are about 21 Casas Guanajuato in the US ....
VF: These are places where we can gather, get to know each other, and support each other. I believe that we must unite the Mexicans living in the US with those who remain in Mexico. I believe that if we put our efforts together we can make sure that things will change in Mexico ... that every little girl and boy in our country will have opportunities. In this way, if the person decides freely to leave and work in another country, he or she can do so, based on this concept of liberty, but not forced by hunger ... forced by desperation. I«d like to tell all of you that we are ready to work with you; just give us a call and we«ll get to work with you immediately. Since last year we have several maquiladoras operating with money invested by you. You are the owners, you are stock-holders in these twin-plants that provide jobs to your family members in rural communities. This year we would like to build 50 of these plants. I hope that we can stay in contact. Let us work together to build a marvelous Mexico and, why not?, to continue supporting the US so that it will continue being such a country of leadership. Together we can build a better future for both countries.
JH: Last question Vicente .... Do you real feel confident that you can arrive to the presidency?
VF: Total and absolute confidence. First, because I«ve never liked losing, and second because I travel all over Mexico on Saturdays and Sundays ... I asked my children for their support and agreement to dedicate this time to Mexico .... I have been developing a presidential pre-campaign, and I meet with thousands of men and women, young and old, who think just as I do. They tell me that they«ve had enough, that they are tired of seeing their country bewildered, that they do have confidence in this country, that they know there are great natural resources, that there are great human resources .... The love we have for our country moves us to take the reins and no longer leave them in the hands of irresponsible people .... So, I encounter this every Saturday and every Sunday, and I believe we are headed straight to the presidency of the Republic. No one will be able to stop it; it«s a great social movement .... Everyone will see it and we will all celebrate it July 2, of the year 2000.
JH: So, you feel the support of the Mexican people?
VF: I definitely do. And by the way, I«ll be a president without suit and tie. And Los Pinos, beginning the year 2000, will be the house of all Mexicans. Up to now it has been the house of the President of Mexico. That will change ... it will be the home of all of us ... we«ll have a great fiesta there, we are going to have a great time ....
Alliances and Political Changes
Guanajuato, Gto., January 15, 1996
"[We must] be open to the possibility of those concrete alliances having clear, precise content and purposes with other social and political forces of the country -- including the government -- that will allow practical and verifiable advances in matters such as respect for the vote, clean elections, reform of election laws and even, when and where circumstances permit, the formation of plural electoral fronts."
The foregoing appears in the book, El PAN Nuestro, written by Carlos Castillo Peraza, a distinguished representative of our party, who has recently made statements about the political alliances proposed by a group of citizens and members of various parties, including the PAN.
After making ten proposals, Castillo Peraza writes: "These ten suggestions, by no means the only projects immediately facing the PAN, will give the party the outline needed for the embodiment of its principles in today's Mexico in transition, and in the Mexico yet to come."
It is obvious that our colleague Carlos Castillo does not reject the idea that political alliances (or plural electoral fronts, as he calls them) can be an instrument for the PAN to make substantial headway in politics and democracy, particularly in a transitional period like the present.
There have been other distinguished party members who have also supported this kind of strategy in order to foster democracy and thus end the authoritarian political system we have in Mexico. Here is a small example. Manuel G—mez Mor’n, so fondly remembered by all of us in the PAN, said the following during an interview with James Wilkie (Entrevistas con Manuel G—mez Mor’n, Edna Monz—n de Wilkie, Editorial Jus, 1978, Mexico. P. 57):
MGM: If there had not been a political outlet for the state of anguish that existed in Mexico in 1939, we would have had a tremendous revolution. But fortunately -- "fortunately" may be the wrong word -- popular unrest was leading to a change in government. And most people thought Almaz‡n could make that change; we did not believe that and, the day after the frustrated election, we said: the struggle must continue, it must be continued if Mexico's real problems are to be solved.
JW: But the PAN went in on Almaz‡n's side, didn't it?
MGM: Yes, the Pan went in on Almaz‡n's side, but with many reservations. He was simply the other one, the only possible opposition candidate. People said: there are two candidates -- the official one and General Almaz‡n. The opposition must not be divided. Many suggested that the party take no position about the candidate at that time; but then it would not have been a party; it would have been an academy, a center for social and political studies; something that was not what we wanted the PAN to be. We felt it was essential to create an activist political party.
It is true that since then political conditions in Mexico have changed greatly, but what is important is that in the history of the PAN it was sometimes necessary to choose strategies that included efforts with other political forces for the sake of advancing democracy. This by no means implies renunciation to our party's principles.
As a member of PAN I am interested in the debate and will accept the final decision of the National Board, but I believe that if there is one thing we must keep in our party it is civility and high-level debate, not insults and unfounded accusations.
Personally, I believe that Mexico's plurality today demands that we not close off the possibility of alliances with other parties when they are necessary and advisable. As the century ends our country may have greater potential for development, once we have a congress with an opposition majority to finally control the excesses of the authoritarian presidency we Mexicans have tolerated for years.
I share ideals and principles with my colleague, Carlos Castillo Peraza, as well as a daily devotion to the task of building a better Mexico. It is good that we can openly discuss our differences and set forth our viewpoints. I appreciate his contributions to the party and send him my best wishes for success in the challenges he has taken on.
[Traducido por Irene del Corral]
Personal Reflections on Contemporary
Mexican Politics and the Role that Guanajuato Plays in the National Context
March 1, 1996
I truly thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you a few personal reflections related to Mexicos political development and the role that Guanajuato plays. These reflections are the fruit of my life as a citizen, as a businessman and as governor of the state of Guanajuato.
I am a politician who belongs to one of the parties with the greatest tradition in Mexico and which now, after 56 years of arduous work, is becoming a viable and vigorous option for governing our country.
Before I decided to participate in politics, I was a businessman like many other Mexicans who lived completely outside of public life. I would frequently hear my father complain about the economic situation in Mexico and the political model imposed on Mexicans. On occasions I heard the director of Coca Cola Export, the company for which I worked for many years, express his concerns over requirements imposed by a different way of doing business, in a country with a populist and presidentialist political model. At that time, I did not feel that I could do anything to change this situation.
Nevertheless, I will never forget that day in December of 1987 when, after a month of reflection, I accepted an invitation by Manuel Clouthier, the PAN party«s presidential candidate, to participate in the elections as a federal deputy. This was not an easy decision; I knew that to militate in an opposition party would affect not only my own personal life but the businesses and personal lives of all my family members.
But, how could one be a businessman and not a citizen? How could I continue living outside political life when I saw our government controlling 70% of the economic activity, monopolizing political decisions, propitiating a societal development that depended on the government for its education, health and housing? How could I stay passive when I saw our society controlled by a paternalistic State, incapable of taking in its own hands the reins of its destiny? How could I stay inactive when I had been born in Mexico and loved my country?
For the first time, I was confronted with that profound decision we all must make: to live for others, to take on the responsibility of serving the community and to pay back some of the social debt that as Mexicans we owe to our nation.
As I long reflected on Mexico ... my country, Mexico ... the country of my children, where almost 100 million human beings live, I saw the great contrasts. Mexico is "flower and thorn," large and full of surprises. Mexico ... with volcanos and plains, with abundance and misery. I decided, in December of 1987, to serve Mexico ... my Mexico. And since then, I have dedicated most of my time to political activities, day after day, week after week ... for Mexico.
Mexican society has greatly changed from what it was that distant December of 1987. It is better informed, more critical and more participative. After living 60 years under a political model that is exhausted, it demands the modernization of its political, economic and social life, to confront the challenges of a modern world and the urgent demands of a population which requires now a better quality of life.
Thanks to the tenacity and perseverance of the Mexican people, significant advances have been made in various areas, nevertheless, there are still many painful facts -- margination, poverty, lack of opportunities for millions of youngsters and children, a centralized government that makes all political and economic decisions for the country and a clear lack of the democratic procedures that would permit the political participation our Mexican society demands.
There have been advances, but we still a have a long way to go. The guidelines that Mexico should follow for its development are clear, they are defined in our Constitution. The guidelines have been presented in many forums by the different political parties and various organizations representing our society. These are also demanded by the common people: the farmers (ejidatarios), the laborers, the housewives, the small businesspeople, the university students and teachers. They all demand a different and a better Mexico.
A PROGRAM FOR REVITALIZING MEXICO
To revitalize Mexico, it is absolutely necessary that we have a program which contains the following elements.
First: An integral political reform which can serve as a detonator, to remedy the economic and social needs.
Mexico must modernize its democratic life, leaving behind the state party model, and making the race for political power balanced, transparent and just. We must have this as a precondition to stability and social unity today.
In a democratic, pluralistic and respectful environment, our citizens can maximize their talents and creativity, engaging in productive employment and in the cultivation of science, technology, culture and education.
Furthermore, when a government is legitimatized by the votes of its citizens, it has a greater capacity to coordinate societys aspirations. A legitimate government can search for greater development, combat corruption, make the state of law more effective, and make public security and justice meaningful pillars.
New options for governing are becoming available to Mexico. Citizens now have the opportunity of comparing programs, commitments and performance. They need no longer watch from afar as leaders make decisions on their future, they will demand participation and consultation, and insist that all political, economic and social decisions be made with the contest and participation of the citizens.
The vitality that Mexicans have demonstrated requires a proper framework for development. It is called democracy.
Second: A vibrant federalism which could trigger regional development and political, administrative and economic strengthening of the states and municipalities of the country.
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States defines Mexico as a democratic, federal and representative Republic; it recognizes the freedom and sovereignty of the states and municipalities.
Federalism in Mexico has historical and constitutional roots. It also has a philosophical foundation based on principles of social order. Democracy guarantees the legitimacy of the authorities, the right of citizens to participate in public life, and avoids the excesses of centralism and the monopoly in decision-making. Solidarity permits the various branches of government to collaborate, and to respect each other«s areas of competence. Plurality recognizes the differences that exist in society and serves as a defense against authoritarism.
If at any time centralized decisions were justified, (with what we call presidentialism in Mexico), today it is unjustifiable. Mexicans now have the maturity needed to respect the principles that give us consistency and unify us as a nation and can work in each state and each municipality for self-development.
In response to the constant demand from Guanajuato for federalism, the federal government finally transferred responsibilities and resources to the state of Guanajuato in six areas: communication and transportation, water resources, education, agricultural and cattle development, health and public works in communities with great needs.
Now the people of Guanajuato have the tools to propel their own development, nevertheless, we know that decentralization should not stagnate at the state level, it should flow to the municipalities, strengthening them and empowering them to attend directly to the needs of the communities.
Guanajuato is Mexico«s leader in federalism, not only because it is the first state to assume responsibility, but because all of its 46 municipalities have an ambitious program that will strengthen their financial capacity for regional and community development. While in other states of the Republic the municipalities receive 20 or 30 percent of the states resources, in Guanajuato this amount reaches 55 percent. These funds, that state government provides freely and willingly, have strengthened municipal finances.
In addition, a commission of mayors from the different parties, state authorities and representatives of the legislative power was formed to define the criteria used to decentralize programs and resources now managed by the state. The goal we have imposed on ourselves is that the majority of actions that directly affect the improvement of the communities be realized by the local authorities, leaving to the state government the responsibility for the regional development and coordination of societal efforts.
In Mexico there is no better way to unleash the potential in the individuals of each community, each municipality and each state, than pursuing co-responsibility, teamwork, and than by authentic federalism.
Third: A true separation and commitment to collaboration among the three Powers which would invigorate our institutional, republican and democratic life.
In all societies there is the danger of authoritarianism, and the best antidote against it is a real process of checks and balances between the public powers.
Today, in modern societies, there is no better guarantee for the proper exercise of authority, than a system of controls that permits the existence of a Federal Executive whose actions are regulated by law and that effectively coordinates the efforts of society; a Legislative Power which exercises its fiscal duties and emits just laws which have been accepted by the citizens; and an autonomous Judicial Power which applies laws with just criteria and guarantees security to all the citizens.
In Mexico, an openness now exists for the opposition parties to participate in Congress and in the local legislatures; nevertheless, unfair formulas persist in the integration of these bodies -- there is an over-representation of the party in power and an under-representation of the other political forces. Some groups still believe that a Legislative Power which is autonomous, or which is in the hands of the opposition, jeopardizes the governability or weakens the development of Mexico.
In Guanajuato we are proving the contrary: that plurality strengthens the government, strengthens democracy and avoids the abuse of power. In this state the Executive is headed by a militant of the National Action Party (Partido de Acci—n Nacional or PAN), Congress has a majority from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI) and the majority of the mayors belong to the PRI.
These circumstances have forced us to proceed with transparency, to sell ideas, to look for consensus from the different political forces and from society itself. We are not afraid of being watched, nor are we afraid of providing accounts; on the contrary, it is a stimulus so that all our actions be strictly coherent with what the law demands.
If in Guanajuato we have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to proceed with maturity and that plurality is necessary for good government, Mexicans should not fear to use their vote to make our Congress vigorous and truly independent.
Fourth: We need to promote economic reform that will enjoy credibility and confidence that is based on a ethical criteria of social justice.
Mexico has already experienced industrial growth that never translated into social development; Mexico has experienced a populist neoliberal government that increased the number of Mexicans living in extreme poverty.
The model that Mexico has followed since 1985 committed many errors in the management of economic variables and in the timing and kinds of foreign participation of exterior openness. The productive structure was destroyed, impoverishing our society even more and creating the monstrous crisis we are still suffering. Nevertheless, we should take charge once again and become practical, intelligently taking advantage of the opening of trade and of the global economy. If we do not take this path, we will be left with protectionism and isolation.
Here we must be very careful. It is impossible to apply a program of trade and economic reform that is blind to the realities of the productive system and the unemployment that Mexico faces at this moment. To be effective, this program requires the creation of conditions of great strength and balance in our economy which give national businesses and consumers the ability to produce goods, create jobs and increase income to sustain the growth our country needs and the Mexican people demand.
Mexicans could no longer bear an economic model that, with the excuse of stability, widens the gap between productive sectors, between the developed regions and the excluded peoples, between excessive accumulation of income of a few and a bankrupt economy of the majority.
That is why we must take on the challenge of strengthening the economy of Guanajuato though we are surrounded by a national crisis in which there are low expectations and a lack of direction. We must take on the challenge of strengthening the micro economy because it has an effect on all industries, on the pockets of the employees, on the family income and on community development.
A little while back, in Guanajuato, we presented the Government Basic Plan 2000. Its economic division presents the following goals:
To build a great alliance between government and productive sectors which will strengthen businesses through productivity, technology and competitiveness. In Guanajuato, we will not let a single entrepreneur, with a good idea and a viable project, lack support to achieve his or her goals.
To generate our own internal savings, public and private, we must direct resources to reinforce our social institutions, our industry and agricultural sectors, and public works with significant social emphasis. It is important to note that Guanajuato already has a State System for Financial Development -- the only one in our country. This System seeks viable and innovative ways to attract investments, taking advantage of financing sources of various types under the best conditions.
To create respectable jobs and salaries. That is why we are promoting exports and investments which complement the efforts of local investments. We will seek greater results from tourism and will emphasize selfemployment, especially in areas of great hardship. In a strong and competitive economy, like the one we would like in Guanajuato, greater value is given to labor, thus higher wages give greater security to families. Fortunately, a new culture of social commitment and a culture of quality and productivity is appearing in the business community.
To present a new basis for sustainable development through a new relationship between the economic enterprises, Mother Nature, infrastructure and reliable up-to-date information.
All these components will make Guanajuato a competitive state, capable of facing the challenges of the modern world and capable of taking advantage of the benefits of economic globalization.
Fifth: The fifth essential element to help Mexico progress is quality education as a vehicle for economic and social development, built on the transfer of scientific and technical information, the values and universal principles that give significance to human beings.
It would be of very little value for Mexico to advance in a political democratic reform or grow as never before in its economy if we are not able to change what is most important: to give all Mexicans the opportunity of improving through education, culture, science and technology.
Our country will not be able to grow, will not be able to excel in our highly competitive world, will not improve the distribution of wealth, if it does not raise the level of education beyond sixth grade, if we do not create conditions so that all children have the assurance of a place in school and the university.
We will continue to depend on the discoveries made in other countries until we begin to truly support our own centers of scientific research; our productive sector will continue to give feeble levels of productivity, and produce few jobs, until we stop using the technology that in other parts of our planet has already been obsolete for many years.
I must repeat that in Guanajuato, the most important cornerstone of our government plan is education. We spend most of our resources and energy on education -- science, technology and culture.
Recently, we established an ambitious integral scholarship program so that one thousand youngsters would have the opportunity to study in high school and college. Another important step will be to provide one hundred scholarships for graduate school.
Not long ago, we created in Guanajuato the State Board on Science and Technology which will be responsible for, among other activities, linking all the research centers and universities in the state with the productive sectors. It will be responsible for promoting highly specialized training and supporting the development of viable projects which will translate into more productive businesses and, therefore, greater opportunities for the families of Guanajuato.
In a globalized and interdependent world, many barriers have fallen. If we used to have guns and economic power as the pillars of development for nations, today development is based on knowledge, provided at work and at the universities.
In our state we have the greatest number of scientific and technological research centers in the country, and we have renowned researchers who have distinguished themselves nationally and internationally. We have talent and desire to share knowledge and experience. Guanajuato, today, opens its doors and offers the best from its people to share in the educational and scientific development of Mexico.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
All these consideration are a general summary of my views on Mexico«s current situation. We do have viable alternatives to construct a different model for the development of our country, where democracy, federalism, balance of powers, education, and economic growth translated into social development are fundamental components. Nevertheless, there is a great urgency for finalizing a transition that has taken too long, and a great need for placing on the table concrete agreements among our society, political parties and the various levels of government, so that Mexico can clear away uncertainty, have an open road ahead and build an economy that will be internationally competitive.
In Guanajuato we have taken on this challenge. We can say with pride that we are pioneers in the great changes that, sooner or later, will take place all over Mexico.
I invite all Mexicans to make a solemn vow to give of themselves for others, to be responsible in serving our community and to pay back a little of the social debt we all as Mexicans owe to our country.
Federalism and Regional Development
March 20, 1996
At the beginning of the century, through revolution, Mexico forged ahead to the vanguard and in 1917 established a progressive pact -- a political, social and civic pact that clearly defined the ideal nation. As the century comes to a close, that vanguard has dropped back so far that it has become the rearguard.
The fact is, we wasted time; we let the century slip away. We lost the political battle. We lost the economic battle. Other countries, most of them, made good use of time. They shook off military, personal and political-party dictatorships, and can now discuss development, education, culture and growth.
We have also lost the economic battle. Today we have a Mexico sunken in mediocrity, in poverty; a Mexico with large numbers of citizens who do not even reach the survival level.
Mexicos statistics leave much to be desired. For example, statistics from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean: as to per capita income growth, in the last five years, from 1991 to 1995, Latin America as a whole grew 5.1%; Mexico lost ground, dropping 5.8% during that same period.
Latin America's global increase in the gross national product in that five-year period was 15%. Mexico's was a scant 3% over five years.
As to the minimum wage, in 1994, 8.1% of workers were paid wages below the minimum. By 1995 this figure had grown to 11.6%.
The figures concerning education are alarming. There is still a 14% illiteracy rate, the average citizen attends school for only six years and only ten out of every 100 young people have access to universities.
The quality of life is reflected in these statistics. There is no time to lose. We need to leave the old pattern behind. We need to rebuild the nation and rebuild the economy.
We do not have to discover a new political structure. The structure was established in 1917. I don't know why we continue to promise and promote reform of the State, political reform, electoral reform. What is needed is political resolve and a return to the constitutional framework.
Beyond that, we must try to gain time to see if the system can be salvaged. This is why it seems to me that it is urgent to undertake, not merely a transition, but an immediate transformation. To leave behind that old pattern and achieve, first, true autonomy of powers, a truly republican system that shares power and finds balances and counterbalances in its functioning.
The Miracle of Guanajuato
We are already doing this in Guanajuato, where the executive branch comes from one political party, while the federal government represents another -- the official party, the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional). The majority of the State congress belongs to the PRI, as do 36 of Guanajuato's 46 mayors.
This does not hinder the formation of a great alliance, to produce a common plan to give Guanajuato certainty about where we want to go and how we want to get there.
We fervently hope for this kind of political maturity, and we make an appeal to the Mexican people, to our whole society, to support an opposition majority in Congress, to the Chamber of Deputies in 1997.
Let us envision, if this were to be the case, how such a new relationship would impose constraints and limitations on presidential power. Let us envision the onset of a battle against corruption and violence, against political crime.
Look at the situation in Guanajuato, the result of a credible election accepted by all the citizens; it offers great governability, democratic legitimacy and moral authority for consensual decisions, to draw the entire society together to work on common goals.
These are the benefits of democracy and of clean, transparent, fair elections with equal opportunities for all participants.
It is also necessary to make federalism a reality once again, since it has been curtailed in our country. A federalism that brings absolute respect for the sovereignty of the states; a federalism in which decisions and responsibilities are shared.
Guanajuato is determined to take a step forward in this direction. There are already six concrete commitments to decentralize responsibilities monopolized by the federal government. The Guanajuato State Secretary for Farming and Fishing Development took charge of the corresponding sector of the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Social Development is now part of the State government, and all programs of Solidarity are in the hands of the municipalities.
Similarly, advances have been made in the fields of middle and upper education, in highways, bridges and roads, and, of course, in health care. It is now the responsibility of the people of Guanajuato to deal with these challenges that have been decentralized.
But the greatest reason it is important to return to our constitutional framework has to do with participatory democracy. Participatory democracy gives moral strength to those who assume public service; it unleashes energy to face the challenges and leads the way toward a better future.
Federalism has only just begun. There is no question that much still remains to be done. Commitments have been made directly with President Ernesto Zedillo to make decisive advances in other areas that must be federalized as well. But, also, to propose legislation that would apply federalism universally and, finally, consolidate it, couple it with fiscal federalism, giving each level of government its own source of income, its own resources with which to make sovereign, independent decisions. Regional development is an urgent necessity.
It is wrong to continue formulating national development plans that ignore local opportunities and needs. The right path is through decentralization and federalism.
With the century ending and the millennium drawing to a close, now is a good time to reflect, to evaluate, to weigh the economic system or model the country has imported in recent times.
It is time to find a formula to replace ex-President Salinas's neoliberalism, now continued by President Zedillo. The results are obvious, they are within view and, yet, today's world offers no new path toward the two objectives any economy must pursue: to create wealth and distribute it in a simultaneous and parallel way, in a fair and just way.
At the moment we have only the path of free markets and participatory democracy. Nevertheless, this model, applied in Mexico, must be adjusted quickly. Here are some suggestions to that end.
First, we need public institutions, financially healthy governments that have the capability to lead, not merely to put out fires.
Extraordinarily, unlike other states, Guanajuato has practically no public debt. On the contrary, bank deposits, in productive accounts, total amounts between 250 and 500 million pesos. This brings the effect of increasing the state budget by a little more than 5%, which is allotted to programs for economic or social development. Other states, and the federal government itself, allot from 10% to, at times, 35% of their budgets to cover interest and principal on bank debts.
We need a solid structure to promote development and sustain our sovereignty, the bastion of Mexican society. We must also encourage savings; savings generated within our country but also from abroad; savings that, through exports, can anchor assets in Mexico, can strengthen our economy and that can stay here forever. Not the kind of savings that comes through speculation, through short-term volatile investment that becomes an instrument for blackmail, forcing our financial system to its knees and jeopardizing national progress and the standard of living of all Mexicans. Savings that we must also attract through direct foreign investment: in factories, in machinery, in bricks, in buildings, in lands -- investment that generates employment and makes a commitment to the development of communities and states. Finally, true internal savings promoted by social institutions, and not like what has occurred heretofore.
Guanajuato is very proud of her State Housing Institute and her Institute at the Service of State Workers. Both have productive treasuries of over some 500 million pesos and solid resources in lands, buildings and assets that serve as a buttress for all the citizens of Guanajuato.
But there are still some who insist on imposing the fatal option they would have us believe in: to promote a poverty which brings development and growth; to force down wages under the theory that it will make us competitive abroad; to support only the elite, the big corporations and the big banks, and neglect any project dealing with micro, small and medium size industry. That option must be rejected immediately through improved wages that will encourage and promote the domestic market. We must ensure that every citizen of our country has real purchasing power.
Le—n, Guanajuato's largest city, has seen a surprising recovery in the shoe industry, that now operates at full capacity and reduced unemployment from 8% in July of 1995 to 1.8% in January of 1996. Now factories are pulling personnel from each other and wages have risen. The same is occurring in San Francisco del Rinc—n, Morole—n, Uriangato, San JosŽ Iturbide.
But the best thing that has happened in Guanajuato is the effort to modernize farming. In November and December of 1995, sorghum and corn crops brought historic prices that have benefited many families in rural Guanajuato.
Today, 32% of Guanajuato's population lives in rural areas. That is what makes this income so important. Many feel that agriculture is bringing for the first time real profits.
Working with micro, small and medium industry produces employment and income for families. This is why we in Guanajuato are determined that everyone with a good idea, a productive project, can count on a backing of capital and credit to start up that small shop, that family business, that cooperative. And these small projects are multiplying, creating jobs and strengthening the state's economy.
It is relevant to briefly mention a bank, the Gramine Bank of Bangladesh. As we know, commercial banks have defined their clientele as all those citizens who already have resources, who can give guarantees and who have start-up capital; the bank merely lends them additional funds.
A bank in Bangladesh wanted to work with the other 75% of the population; its clientele is now defined as those who have no property at all, those with no capital. What is surprising is that it is recovering 95% of its credits, of more than a million dollars placed in small loans of 10, 50, 100 or up to 500 dollars.
Even more surprising is that 95% of these credits are given to women. Women who start a little business, who help move the economy, who may use part of the money for consumption, but only for the absolute necessities: a pair of shoes or school supplies for their children. This is recycling the economy.
Today in Guanajuato we are starting to do the same -- to invest in the poor.
Through various mechanisms, then, there are ways to rebuild the middle class, to once again foster development and growth.
There is another field where we have lost the battle: education. It is urgent that we deeply transform national, regional and local educational goals.
Education must be the foundation, the starting point to aspire to growth and development. Formal education is a long, costly process requiring a great investment, with results seen in the medium and long term.
In Guanajuato we have made some calculations, trying to work out an estimate of the investment required to sustain at least the average six years of education. Unfortunately, the current budget is inadequate to build the schools, furnish them, train teachers and, finally, fulfill educational goals.
If we do not find creative solutions, it will be impossible to develop, in quality and quantity, the educational model as quickly as it is needed, and the government will be asked to invest more money in education. Seventy percent of Guanajuatos state budget is devoted to education.
Let us examine other figures to determine what is causing the impoverishment of the country and the inflationary process. In 1994, 70% of Guanajuato's budget was considered non-discretionary spending: fixed expenses, payrolls, and only 30% was for productive investment.
In 1995, 85% was non-discretionary and only 15% was available for optional expenditures. In 1996, 90% is non-discretionary. There is no more capacity for optional expenditures. This is why we must channel budgets and the efforts of the whole society into an attempt to rescue the economy before we end up with a depletion of financial resources, that would immobilize the country, a situation that is imminent if we do not find a solution at once.
In any event, we are promoting education in Guanajuato. We have made a commitment to take at least one computer to each of the 5,500 public elementary schools in the state, an instrument that will allow our youngsters to have contact with modern life; that will permit our teachers to be more productive and go farther in that heroic effort they make day by day in every rural school, in every school in the communities of Guanajuato.
We have also made a commitment, by next September, to assure all young people who complete Secundaria school, who wish to continue their studies, and meet entrance requirements, that there will be a place reserved for every one of them.
We must prepare 26,000 places in middle higher education between now and September, and we are already engaged in that task. Fortunately, there is definite support, first, from the teachers but also from institutions, including private schools, willing to collaborate to ensure sufficient space so that no young person will be denied access to middle higher education.
As a third commitment in this area, next September a thousand scholarships will be awarded to the children of farmers, the poorest families in the state who, with this full scholarship, will be able to realize the dream of attending the university. They will receive support from the time they leave Secundaria (junior high) school until they have become professionals; all we ask of them in return is that they spend their vacations back home helping develop their own communities.
Finally, this effort -- an effort to overcome the anachronistic political model that prevails in our country today, based on a presidential power that has practically reduced Mexico's future viability, to overcome the neoliberalism that is criminally cutting short the dreams of children, young people and entire families -- must also result in a reevaluation of our own capabilities and our own attitudes as Mexicans.
I do not understand why we are spending so much time looking for solutions in Washington, in Wall Street; we need only look to our land, our climate, our water, our factories, our industries, our schools, our universities, our research centers. Here are the resources to take this country forward; we are looking for diamonds abroad although they are right here in our own backyard.
We need to turn our eyes to ourselves, we need a national and nationalistic plan to promote our resources and our people. That is the road to the future.
In economics, our business leaders must also stop following others without asking where they are going and where they are taking us. We have the ability to formulate our own plan, a feasible plan, a plan that will lead Mexico to the greatness we have been expecting for a century.
A New Society
In social matters we must also overcome old vices. Among others, corporativism. We need to build a new society with many, many non-governmental organizations; to weave a new social fabric with solidarity, with the effort of all of us.
These should be the commitments of society: more and more autonomous, independent, non-governmental organizations with well defined goals; the commitment of society to create a federal congress next year with an opposition majority.
Commitments, too, to our own values, to our own capabilities. We have, in every Mexican, our country's greatest strategic reserve, to face the future with real optimism.
Commitments, too, to return to the constitutional framework, to live in full democracy, to exercise federalism, to deeply respect the dignity of every individual, to respect the vote of each citizen.
The commitment to leave behind, to overcome the die-hard neoliberal model that has brought nothing but despair, irritation, and devaluation of the citizens and families of Mexico.
We firmly believe in the future. We firmly believe that a new Mexico will arise in the next two or three years. We have already come to the last act, we are in the final stage of this long struggle for Mexico's freedom.
At the end of this century we are ready to rebuild the country and return to the place we deserve in the community of nations. But above all, we must rebuild a Mexico that offers equal opportunities for all Mexicans -- for those living today and for our children who will come after us.
[This article appeared, in a similar edition, in COMPROMISOS CON LA NACION, Editorial PLAZA & JANES, 1996]
[Translated by Irene del Corral]
Security and Justice
Guanajuato, Gto., April 12, 1996
Mexicans demand an immediate state of law that guarantees public safety and a fair application of justice.
In Mexico, the index of criminality has reached intolerable levels, crippling the authorities«s ability to combat crime and corruption. Criminal organizations enjoy, on occasions, the protection of dishonest government leaders and use firearms, tactics and equipment more sophisticated than those employed by police corps. We need not mention the vast funds they manage. This situation demands speedy and consequential steps because safety and justice are fundamental elements of life in society, and without these we are threatening stability and peace.
We must confront this challenge, convinced that this is one of the governments primary obligations. In Guanajuato we know there are grave problems in this area. Nevertheless, we are advancing -- we are creating honest, capable, professional police forces who have a deep commitment to service. Since we know there are still public servants who have not embraced total honesty, we should not tolerate those who betray our peoples trust. We must eradicate corruption and apply our laws to all those who officials who weaken the security of our citizens.
The truceless war against delinquency should be primarily based on the following actions:
Train the Police Force to Become Professionals
To confront organized crime we must provide training and personal development to the members of the police force, endorsing honesty and whole-hearted service. All police agents should be trained in the Institute of Professional Training, which has rigid aptitude requirements for acceptance, including psychological and vocational tests and a high school diploma. One hundred percent of the Agentes del Ministerio Pœblico and of Servicios Periciales should also participate in these studies.
To be efficient in the jobs and comply with legal obligations, the Police should be subjugated to the Ministerio Pœblico. This will bring greater control and order, avoiding abuses of power. In addition, ambitious educational programs should be put in place to create specialists within the Police of each state. Areas of specialization should include: detection and recovery of stolen automobiles; prevention and management of kidnappings (with professors from the Colombian police and United States FBI, for example); criminology and investigative field work. Furthermore, criminology labs should be built with modern equipment and professional assistance.
The best way to stop crime growth is with citizen participation, creating a culture of prevention that begins in the family nucleus. The Attorneys General of the states should hold periodic meetings with representative groups of society and with parents living in populated areas. Individuals with influence, such as sports figures, artists, state and municipal authorities and agents working in various security organizations, should meet with children and teenagers, emphasizing the importance of health, sports and family values. This will promote the collaboration of children and teenagers in the war against crime.
Coordination of Efforts
To better fight organized crime, we should have as an important priority a better coordination of the efforts made by the different organizations which foster security. Public Safety State Boards should be created to coordinate efforts which have demonstrated success in diminishing crimes such as auto theft, kidnappings and bank robberies.
An Innovative Attitude
We would like organizations in charge of public security and enforcement of justice not to be limited to seeking crime. They must enlarge their horizons. Forums should be organized which provide innovative ideas to improve the administration of justice, public security and human rights in our country.
We are committed to guaranteeing that in Mexico a truly lawful state exists and that families can sleep without fear, trusting that their authorities are working for their safety. We will not step back in our war against those who have made crime a way of life. To all those who may be tempted by delinquency, due to Mexico«s economic crisis and lack of opportunities, we ask you to call on us so that we may help you find a more productive venue.
Security and justice are fundamental elements and commitments which we have decided to carry so that Guanajuato and all of Mexico will be A Land of Opportunity.
Education for Growth
Guanajuato, Gto, May 10, 1996
In a country where sixth grade is the average level of education, where job training is almost non existent, and where productivity has not been able to reach international standards, it is very difficult to attain the socioeconomic development that we, as Mexicans, would like.
If we analyze the current state of our educational system, from elementary to post-secondary, we can clearly see where we are falling behind and that it is imperative we change.
Both the federal and state governments should give priority to our educational needs. These governmental institutions must become catalysts for an educational revolution -- a revolution which includes all aspects related to human learning: science, technology, humanities, values and practical applications of knowledge.
In states with dispersed populations that may lack in terms of education but show growth in the industrial sectors, we should bring together universities, research institutions, and industries. This will efficiently incorporate the experiences of workers and the knowledge of those in academic fields. The challenge is to meet our current demands in education and those which may arise in the future.
We must create educational organizations:
To unite all educational institutions within the nation and within every state.
To create job training programs in the public, private, and social sectors.
To stimulate and create demand for educational services in the industrial sector seeking ways to fit their needs.
And finally, to disseminate practical knowledge among Mexicans.
It is necessary to work in the agricultural and financial sectors, in both the state and local levels. We must focus on specific industries, such as footwear, tourism and textiles. Finally, we must spread knowledge in topics such as environmental science, public safety, natural resources and social development.
This project should highlight an area ignored until now but one which we as Mexicans have plenty of experience with: practical knowledge.
For example, in Guanajuato our farm workers have developed a simple watering system which uses Coke bottles. This system does not require major investments and is as effective as other systems with excessive costs. The system consists of a Coke bottle grafted to a tree which deposits water. Though to many this system would seem inconsequential, in areas where it has been implemented, there have been significant financial savings along with the conservation of water.
Another example of the ingenuity of our farm workers is their system of planting without having to remove the remains of past sorghum crops and without having to level the land. This system has helped farm workers save time and resources, in addition to greater harvests.
Mexican laborers are admired by many around the world for their ingenuity. Some of our "improvised" systems have been the basis for cutting edge technology in foreign countries.
This type of learning experience should be promoted throughout Mexico. If we are able to bring together practical experience with the education from colleges, universities and research institutions, we will be able to make significant advances in the industrial area. We will have greater productivity, employment and quality of life for our families.
Let us take advantage of all our resources, promoting an educational revolution that will make Mexico a land of great opportunity for all.
[Translation by: Jose Luis Briones]
Women and Development
Guanajuato, Gto., April 11, 1997
We cannot conceive the modern world without the active presence of women, without their valuable contributions to progress in all areas, or without their frequent efforts to straighten out what men have twisted or destroyed.
Not long ago, in Los Angeles, California, we were guests at the Annual Conference of Latin Women where we had the opportunity to meet with a group of outstanding, successful ladies who have achieved prominence in the business, academic, political and social life of the United States. During that meeting, we saw how women demonstrated their talents with accomplishments and overcame all challenges to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.
We were also very pleased to see that a woman from Guanajuato, Sagrario Perea de PŽrez, received well deserved recognition for her efforts to defend the right of Mexican immigrants to access education in the United States.
The time spent with these ladies was an inspiration for us; it renewed our hope for the building of a better future for Mexico and Guanajuato, because women in our own country, like those in the United States, are taking a larger role in all areas of human effort.
Contemporary history tells us of women's achievements; they had to face difficult situations and make greater efforts than men to demonstrate that they are able to change their environment and make valuable contributions to humanity. Therefore, a truly democratic Mexico cannot exist if there is no opportunity for a fuller life for the 50.7% of the population who are women.
Fortunately times have changed and now it is common to see women in the business world who contribute to the development of their communities through innovative enterprises that they have themselves created and manage in a professional manner. Women's talents are also seen in the world of politics. More and more women work in social associations that promote decent housing, better economic conditions, respect for the environment, for human rights and true democracy in different countries of the world. Nobody is surprised nowadays to see women in important positions in public administration, as legislators, cabinet members, attorneys general or magistrates.
Women's contribution to our development in Guanajuato is growing; theirs is a participation that has brought great benefits to our state. If we look at the legislative and judicial branches of our state government, we are gratified to see women legislators and judges working with the same intensity and devotion as their male counterparts. Women also play an important role in the executive branch, as cabinet members, and in other areas equally important to our state's progress.
Perhaps the most encouraging example we have in Mexico is that of those thousands of sacrificing women, the mothers on farms or in poor city areas, who work hard every day to help their children get ahead. It is to those women, because of their excellence, courage and responsibility, that we have dedicated one of our most ambitious programs: Santa Fe Microcredits of Guanajuato provides them with financing to open a micro business, to have a better opportunity to help their families get ahead.
We have seen that Mexican women keep their word; they have used the credits to open the micro businesses, and they have all started to repay their debts on time. They organize support groups, form boards of directors, elect presidents and other officers, and they save and reinvest in their businesses. They set an example for all of us who have a duty to the children of our state.
Because we value the role and contribution of all women, we are not yet satisfied; our commitment is that no woman in Mexico, of any age, lack the means necessary to get ahead and, at the same time, contribute to our country's becoming a land of real opportunity.
We will go on working so that all women in Mexico have access to education, employment, culture, sports, politics and the economy on the same terms as men, because there are still some areas where women have not been given the opportunity to participate. This will allow all of us to combine our efforts, to give our country heart and passion so that together we can build the Mexico we want for the thousands of youngsters who will come after us.
A woman voiced the challenge: "The XXI century is the century of the woman because you men have been unable to end poverty, because you men have been unable to end war. You have been unable to narrow the obscene gap between the few rich and the many who live in poverty and hardship. You men have been unable to produce excellence in education with equal opportunity for all"!! We accept the challenge!! We welcome women to business, to politics and to all the activities of our society.
[Traducido por Irene del Corral]
Guanajuato, Gto., 17 of May, 1996
No Mexican citizen wants our oil to cease being a part of our nation's patrimony. The Mexican constitution explicitly states that the natural resources in Mexican territory belong to the nation, and by this we are not only referring to petroleum but to water and minerals.
As for the PEMEX case, I would like to clarify the statements I made in New York which many intentionally misinterpreted.
First of all, we must agree that Mexican oil, without a doubt, belongs to the Mexican people. But this does not mean that it belongs to the Federal government. Our discussion should be related to the need for modernizing the industry and not its ownership. What matters is exploiting this valuable resource so that it can better benefit the Mexican people.
It is no secret that PEMEX has been the apple of discord among politicians and leaders who have bled it until no longer possible. In the minds of all Mexicans are the names of individuals who have become multi-millionaires in a short time span.
If we analyze the "benefits" that PEMEX has brought to those regions where crude oil is extracted, such as Tabasco and Campeche, we find corruption, criminal negligence (causing fatal accidents among workers), poverty, margination, fraudulent land acquisition from farm workers, and the pollution of lakes, rivers and land where crops will no longer grow. In some sites where the ocean floor has been drilled, fishermen have lost their source of income due to the pollution.
We Mexicans know the so-called, "efficiency," of our oil industry. All we have to do is look at the gasoline it produces which is expensive, pollutant and of low quality. We pay excessive increase in gas prices for domestic consumption -- we sell crude oil to foreign countries then buy it back processed (and expensive).
Case in point: in the negotiations that took place between the Mexican federal government and the United States regarding the economic crisis at the beginning of the new presidential term, our oil was mortgaged, behind the backs of the Mexican people, for 50 billion US dollars lent to Zedillo.
Clearly, we as Mexicans are not in favor of losing our oil. We would like to have other alternatives for its exploitation, processing and commercialization in ways that will be efficient and beneficial to Mexicans.
Mexican "paraestatales" have always been a "bottomless pit." For years the federal budget was pumped into these "paraestatales," money that could have been used for education or to aid in the development of the agricultural sector. The "solution" to this problem during the periods of presidents Miguel de la Madrid and Salinas was to sell these enterprises along with the banks, which had become state agencies under Lopez Portillo, to groups who eventually turned these agencies into monopolies. Some of those who benefited from these transactions are now fugitives from justice.
We are in favor of privatization through concessions and this is not something new in our country. It is important that this be done with transparency in order to avoid episodes such as the ones mentioned earlier.
What seems rather strange to us is that local representatives from the PRI who have agreed with the privatization of other agencies (including the phone industry, the airlines, the steel industry and even the banks), now tear at their clothes when we say we are in favor of allowing the responsibilities of PEMEX to become concessions if conditions require it.
PRI members who voted in Congress favoring the presidential initiatives regarding privatization, do not dare contradict Zedillo when the possibility of privatizing the petrochemical industry is mentioned. This is why they embrace the Mexican saying "Te lo digo Juan, para que me entiendas Pedro." (I'm telling you, Juan, so that you can understand me, Pedro).
They seem to forget that any governor, like every citizen, has the right to express his or her views and that in any case, certain matters related to the case of the privatization of PEMEX correspond to the Congress of the Union. Furthermore, arguments in favor of and against privatization should be discussed clearly with Congress, without being afraid of the guest at Los Pinos [the President].
To the labor union of PEMEX, which spent 150 thousand pesos on a newspaper add directed at Vicente Fox Quesada, we recommend that they speak frankly with Doctor Ernesto Zedillo. It is to him they are directing their message of discord concerning the privatization of the petrochemical industry and PEMEX. I do not know why Vicente Fox is being involved. Why is he threatened with "los cerros de las campanas"? Why is he accused of being a traitor to his country when he is only a citizen giving a personal opinion? Let us have a greater liberty of expression without resorting to unnecessary offenses.
We have expressed our opinions clearly. Nevertheless, if our local Guanajuato representatives, who have expressed uncertainties regarding our comments, invite us to the state congress, we will be more than happy to attend and speak with them. Albeit, this matter clearly does not concern Guanajuato but rather the Congress of the Union.
[Translated by JosŽ Luis Briones]
Challenges for Mexico in the New Century
February 5, 1998, Miami, Florida
Id like to thank you for inviting me to reflect on Mexico«s development and the challenges we face in the new century.
Mexico began a notable revolution at the beginning of the 20th century which sought economic and social equality for the Mexicans who, up to then, had been excluded from development.
Unfortunately, the desire of these visionary men and women has not been realized because our country has been afflicted for over 70 years by a presidentialist, centralist and authoritarian political system which has impeded the development of our economy, our democracy, our federalism and the separation of powers.
In general terms, we can say that Mexico«s development has depended more on the will of those in power than on the participation of the citizens or the execution of public policies. Our society, during most of this century, has not participated in economic, political, and social decisions.
WINDS OF CHANGE FOR THE FUTURE
In spite of all this, winds of change are beginning to blow in our country, promising better times.
Mexican society today is more mature, more critical, more demanding and more participatory. Many Mexicans are now governed by authorities of opposition parties; Mexicans can now see new ways of using political power; Mexicans can compare programs, attitudes and results.
Our last democratic experience was the elections in July, 1997. These elections resulted in a majority of opposition leaders in the Federal House of Representatives.
As many have noted, our Mexican society has radically changed. Mexico has left behind its fear and conformism. Our citizens judge and question what has been attained up to now, they give their opinions on the national agenda, they demand being taken into account and they make proposals that are of great impact on the development of our country.
WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
In spite of advances, our society and our government continue walking at a different pace. While public demands increase every day and public needs in many areas persist, our government has not had the talent to reform structures, take advantage of opportunities presented by our inclusion in the global economy, and take care of the microeconomic aspects which are essential for the development of all our regions, all our businesses and all our social groups.
We have not had a clear vision on how to promote reforms which would make our bureaucracies more efficient. Governments must recognize that in many cases society is better suited to manage certain activities.
We have not had the ability and vision to strengthen our Mexican human capital, ensuring a greater future for our nation.
We have not promoted science and technology. We are far behind in education. And we have not permitted women and young people to use the dynamic power they posses.
With regard to true democracy, we are still in diapers. Notwithstanding the great advances, there is a great risk that our transition will be slowed down by political groups that are against change.
We are far, very far, from being a developed country. It is urgent that Mexicans come together and elaborate a national project which will allow us to rise quickly from the great shortages we suffer.
My thoughts related to this national project, this new social pact, include a governability agreement, a commitment with human development and a pact to improve the quality of growth:
Governability should include an efficient way of leading the country. We need an agreement describing the minimum conditions that a government must meet to satisfactorily propel Mexico into the 21st century.
There must be three essential elements in this agreement.
1. Macroeconomic Stability
Mexico cannot deny that economic stability represents one of the key elements for a satisfactory developmental program. Our ups and downs, due to an economic instability with high inflation, are known to all. A fiscal balance, which permits stability, would be a key element for any program presented by a serious government.
I am not in favor of deficits which increment the vulnerability of our economy and elevate our burden on future generations. I am convinced that public spending must be more efficient, that the tax base must be larger and that fiscal evasion must be reduced.
A Balance in Foreign Debt: In this area, it seems that we as Mexicans have not learned from history. We repeat the same mistake of creating an economic crisis every six years based on modalities that were selected to finance foreign unbalanced accounts, in the inadequate management of our exchange policies and in the inability to transform short range capital flows into long term productive investment.
In Mexico, we need a sustainable deficit in our foreign accounts which can be financed with long range foreign investment, or investments in our own markets that can be used to increment the long rage investments of the Mexican citizens. We must avoid the overvaluation of our exchange rate so that the flow of investments will not be detrimental to the real economic sector, and we must design mechanisms to transform our short term investors of today into long range investors of the new Mexico.
A War Against Inflation: In this respect, two fundamental conditions of our future policies must be met: fiscal austerity and the independence of the Bank of Mexico.
Fiscal austerity is necessary because we all know that the balance of the national accounts depends on the balance of the fiscal accounts. The independence of the central bank is necessary because its autonomy will guarantee that monetary policies will respond to the needs of the real economic sector and not to the desires of groups or individuals who would like to establish populist policies which unrail the macroeconomic balance of the nation.
In Guanajuato we have been very careful in the management of public funds.
Resources play a very important part in the economic policy of our state, our growth and justice depend on their formation and utilization.
First, we have taken the challenge of obtaining the resources -- physical, financial, and especially, human, in sufficient quantities and with quality. To this end, among other actions, we promote savings, public and private; we seek local, state, national and foreign investments in areas of need; and we invest greatly in education.
With regard to savings, we promote it among individuals, families, businesses and public entities. The State Government of Guanajuato has been an example of this, and that is why, unlike most other states in the nation and the Federal Government, Guanajuato has healthy finances.
This has permitted us to apply resources to those areas which give the greatest economic and social benefits. Thus, we receive the greatest benefit and the Guanajuatenses are included in developmental opportunities.
2. True Federalism
If at any time a centralist government was justified in its ample faculties of decision over national development, today the situation has changed. We must recognize that the states and municipalities are now mature.
There are many national debates in Mexico today, but most agree that true federalism is needed. We need: a fiscal policy which will end the excessive concentration of public income to the federation; decentralization policies which will return faculties and attributions to the states and municipalities, which up to now had only been in the hands of central government; and opening greater participation of state and municipal governments to define programs related to regional, economic, political and social development.
In Guanajuato we are to comply with the federalist principles outlined in our constitution.
Our state is pioneer in this. The responsibilities, taxes and other resources which are transferred from the Federation give us the opportunity to respond quickly to citizens who demand immediate attention.
We know the great responsibility this implies. That is why, preventing that federalism be obstructed in the state level, we have an ambitious program in which we transfer programs and resources to municipalities permitting them to improve their service to society.
In addition, we have made an unprecedented effort to strengthen their financial capacity. Today, our municipalities have greatly increased their resources -- resources that are transferred without labels by the state government. The municipalities decide how they will use their funds and only give accounts to the legislative authorities.
In Guanajuato, municipalities have broken the umbilical cord that tied them to the decisions of the governor in office.
3. Honesty in the Exercise of Government
Corruption has become a great evil assaulting all Mexicans and has created a distrust of authorities. Most feel that those who govern have abandoned the majority of the citizens.
In Guanajuato, we are convinced that to create authentic development it is necessary to change the way we execute power. The plurality that our state experiences has been a great asset in this respect.
This plurality, instead of debilitating us, has given us strength.
Our plurality has forced us all to act with transparency in every government activity and to search for consensus among the different political forces and society itself.
We are not afraid of being watched, nor of giving clear accounts. On the contrary, we are motivated to strict coherence to the law in every one of our actions. Plurality has invigorated the governmental task, it has strengthened democracy and has halted abuses in the exercise of power.
COMMITMENT TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Macroeconomic development, federalism and honesty in government are essential elements which we should never renounce, nevertheless, they are still insufficient in ensuring a successful 21st century for Mexico.
The goal, and therefore the debate, should, in my opinion, incorporate in addition to an agreement on governability, an economic policy which advances the quality of growth and commitment to human development. This commitment should include:
1. Social Investment with International Standards
Developmental models which place all the burden of adjustment on reductions in social spending and employee salaries do not recognize the difference between growth and economic development, nor do they guarantee sustainable medium range growth. Nevertheless, this is what we have done up to now.
Since 1976, the cost of investment in human capital in sectors such as education, health and nutrition has been greatly reduced. During this same period, the loss of buying power of the salaried workers has been dramatic. This type of policy is not acceptable. Not only is this economic development unjust in ethical and moral terms, it has the potential of destroying the competitiveness of the Mexican economy in the long range.
A shared economic scheme would rid us of the current model. We must recognize that investment in human development is exactly that, an investment, not an expense. The model that I propose would provide a social investment which would place us in an adequate range, according to international standards established by the United Nations.
These investments would help Mexico recuperate its level of human development in the world community and ensure Mexico«s place within the most successful nations.
In Guanajuato we do not measure poverty based on income of the individuals; we base it on the opportunities available, as it is done today internationally. In this sense, an individual is considered poor when he or she lacks the opportunity to satisfy any one of the basic personal or developmental needs.
That is why we have implemented an ambitious social policy which has as its main objective to open as soon as possible opportunities to those who have been excluded from development.
This policy takes a concrete form in our five basic guarantees: access to education from elementary through college; access to health services; access to ownership of decent housing; and basic services for all communities which have more than 100 population.
2. Education Transformation
The countries which have grown with equity show that one of the most important ingredients for success is education. Nevertheless, in our country, the slow expansion of educational opportunities has promoted more inequality than equality.
In fact, close to 10% of the working population does not register even one year of schooling.
This inequality of distribution of knowledge has encouraged an even worse distribution of income.
Unfortunately, we not only distribute knowledge unequally, we have not reached levels of schooling and training to compete with successful countries. If we are unable in a short period of time to reach at least ten years of average education, our opportunities for shared development will become less and less.
In Guanajuato, education is the backbone of our government programs. We are committed to assure enough spaces so that all children, all young people, and even adults, have the opportunity to study, whether it be elementary, junior high, high school, university, technological education or job training.
But it is not enough to offer spaces for students because many of them, due to economic reasons, cannot attend classes. That is why one of the programs of great priority for the State of Guanajuato is related to scholarships, destined to the poorest families in our state.
Last year, for example, over 45,000 partial scholarships were given to families with low resources and almost 1,500 complete scholarships were given to youngsters from rural areas who wished to continue studies of higher education.
Other educational opportunities are being offered via informal systems such as distance learning and video-high schools. Several new television programs have recently been transmitted on what we hope will be an educational channel covering the entire state.
Additionally, we have been very successful in providing opportunities for technical education. New schools and institutes have been built in various municipalities, especially in our northern zone where there are great needs and underdevelopment. The registration of students in several of these areas has grown up to 71% in just one year.
If we continue previous educational tendencies, we would only reach a 7.5 average of education by the year 2,000. With the opportunities that are being offered in Guanajuato, we will have given an average of 10 years of education by the end of our administration.
A PACT TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF GROWTH
Today the main ingredients of the Mexican economic policy is based on economic growth and inflation reduction. These are essential but not sufficient.
We must place qualifications on our growth. We must grow with equality, improving the quality of growth, taking into consideration its sustainability -- environmentally and socially. We must consider its capacity to generate better paying jobs and its capacity to generate benefits for all, not only for a few. We must not be satisfied only with growth. That is why, in my opinion, the minimum elements that should be incorporated in our economic policy are the following:
Todays proposals emphasize great freedoms and deregulation in the search for economic growth. Unfortunately, many in Mexico forget that there are deep differences between the productive structure of micro-companies and the rest of the productive apparatus; they forget that in our country there are individuals and entire communities which are far from much needed information, knowledge and institutional aids; they forget that many citizens have very limited resources; they also forget that there are great numbers of workers who are self-employed or are outside of what is called the formal economy.
To incorporate these Mexicans who are excluded from economic development we must design instruments which take them over critical obstacles so that all citizens will have opportunities. We must link economic promotion with human development, economic policy and social policy. But this link will not come automatically. We must strive deliberately with public policies which will initiate and speed us to economic growth and human development of the micro-businesses.
We need vigorous public intervention, but at the same time, actions must be selective and temporary so they move to action and not passivity. We must modify compensatory social policies which are designed to temper the impact of destabilizing measures, generating sustainable opportunities which will promote responsibility and commitment.
In Guanajuato, we have elaborated economic policies which have the goal of promoting growth but with equity and justice.
Our economic strategy is based on a balanced combination of fundamental policies, or "horizontal policies," which establish an adequate framework for growth and selective intervention policies, or "vertical policies," in which the State Government promotes development in strategic sectors and includes communities and homes which have been excluded from development.
Taking into consideration that in our country the economic policy has generated grave inequality between sectors and individuals, in Guanajuato we have used our efforts to promote those areas which are strategic for our development, and those sectors and regions which are highly underdeveloped and lacking opportunities.
The priority areas we have selected to enforce selective intervention policies are: agricultural areas, the labor intensive export sector, the micro industries lacking resources, municipalities with great needs and sectors which have important social and economic impact, such as the companies using high technology and the craft sector.
In Guanajuato we have designed several institutions to support micro, small and medium companies who wish to export.
An institution called COFOCE promotes Guanajuatos products in over 60 countries and in 400 international commercial centers. We have opened promotional offices in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, and very soon we will have warehouses in the US to promote our products. We are the only Mexican state with this international presence. We are determined to promote a successful globalization process.
Let me mention several other institutions which support Guanajuatos economy:
A sophisticated Center of Information -- INFOGUANAJUATO; a State Board on Science and Technology; a State Financing System -- helping companies, individuals, and municipal and state authorities to access financial supports necessary to promote social and economic development; a Center for Interuniversity Development -- with practical training to improve productivity; and the Guanajuato Foundation for Quality -- which promotes the culture of quality within private and public entities.
The practical measures that Guanajuato has taken have permitted our state, in a very short period of time, to overcome the disastrous effects of the national financial crisis that hit us in 1994. Today we can say that our recuperation places us 50% lower than the average unemployment of the nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The economic crisis, the high levels of poverty and exclusion, the depressing place we occupy in the world economy could have been avoided. Furthermore, our failures can be reversed if we take our government in a sensible direction, if we take on the challenge of human development and if we strive not only for growth but a quality of growth.
Mexico has huge challenges. The democracy that we are experiencing must be transformed into equality of opportunity for all Mexicans. This is the essence of equity and social integration. We must integrate and provide equal opportunities and rights to all men and women in our country. This will give us a superior rhythm of economic growth and social justice. We must, for example, utilize the Mexican woman«s energy, passion, talent and sense of justice, guaranteeing a better Mexico for our children.
The majority of the countries around the world have left behind the labels of neoliberalism or socialism and have adopted models framed to regional conditions. We must do the same -- find our own path. We cannot stagnate in an economic model with the pretext of economic stability because, as the international press knows, there is a great difference between the great wealth and the great poverty in our country.
We must leave behind the idea that growth and equality are sequential and not simultaneous goals and begin a vigorous program for economic growth and human development so that men women are less vulnerable and have greater opportunities.
Mexico has everything, absolutely everything, for success. We can have equality, justice, opportunities for every citizen who wishes a better economic level and a greater quality of life. And I am sure that we will succeed.
Letter to Mexicans in the United States
Guanajuato, Gto., June 25, 1998
We are very proud of the efforts and achievements of each and every one of the Mexicans in the United States. We are ready to lend a hand to those who may be affected by the new immigration law passed in that country. We are concerned that all Mexicans have an opportunity to get ahead and that their rights as human beings be fully respected.
We know that many Mexicans have had to undertake the adventure of crossing the Rio Grande without documents because in Mexico they lacked opportunities to have a decent life, to have a well paid job, to send their kids to school, or to build homes for their families.
Many of those who live and work beyond our borders are country people, farmers who were forced to leave their land, leave their families to find the livelihood that failed economic policies have denied them for years. Every six years, a new president assured them that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but that light always turned out to be a train approaching that ran over them and left them worse off.
It is very painful for young Mexicans to reluctantly leave their families. We believe that no one should be denied the right to make an honest living. For this reason, we will continue to fight so that Mexican economic policies are no longer determined by political or electoral considerations. Once and for all we will focus on creating jobs, opening opportunities so that young men and women and parents need not go elsewhere to find what our own authorities should provide for them.
Guanajuato is already hard at work to assure opportunities for honest work. We have the city with the lowest unemployment rate in the country (Le—n). Guanajuato is also working toward opportunities in education: every youngster who wishes to continue his studies is assured that he will be able to do so all the way to the university even if he or she is from one of the state's poorest families. In September of 1996 we increased registration in middle higher education by 24%.
It is painful to us that so many Mexicans (nearly a third of the population of Guanajuato) are living in the United States because our bad federal government did not allow them to get ahead here in their own country. And so, I renew my commitment to Guanajuato and to all Mexicans living the United States. My team and I will answer our citizens' demands to create the opportunities they need right here.
Although Guanajuato's economic recovery has been faster than the average of the other states we are not entirely satisfied because there are still important matters that demand complete and immediate solution, so that young Mexicans no longer leave the country. That is why we are working hard to fulfill our obligations to those who entrusted us with the responsibility of heading the State government.
This commitment is even stronger because we know that the Mexicans who have gone are people of worth. Many have been successful in politics, in business, have contributed with their efforts to enrich the countries where they are now living. What is more, they have not forgotten their roots and have had the courage to support their countrymen still struggling here in Mexico.
The United States has every right to tend her borders, but we believe that police tactics are not the solution to the problem of immigration. We have told this directly to the authorities of some US American states and to legislators from that country with whom we have had the opportunity to exchange viewpoints. We have suggested to them that together we find support mechanisms to create jobs in Guanajuato, and in Mexico in general, to offer better education and health services, so that our brothers and sisters will not be forced to emigrate. We will continue to insist on this because we believe it is the real solution for the people of Mexico as well as for the people of the United States.
Meanwhile, in addition to whatever the federal government may do to help Mexicans in the United States, Guanajuato will also give them a hand. I invite all those from Guanajuato to keep in touch with us through the Casas Guanajuato that already exist in several states: five in California (Salinas, Los Angeles, Guadalupe, Napa and San Jose), three in Florida (Arcadia, Labelle, Coconut Creek), two in Illinois (Chicago and Waukegan), one in Omaha, Nebraska, another in Eugene, Oregon, another in Dallas, Texas, and one in Aurora, Colorado. We will open more of these Guanajuato Houses in other cities if you request them.
We want to serve those from Guanajuato and all Mexicans. We will be glad to offer you guidance to deal with your problems and defend your rights. It is our responsibility and we accept it with pleasure.
Take heart! We stand behind you!
[Traducido por Irene del Corral]